Reckless driving in Virginia is a class 1 misdemeanor. The penalties and fines for reckless driving can be stiff, and they can depend upon the type of charge you have.
Reckless driving by speed
Most of my clients have been charged with reckless driving by speed. This is probably the most common form of reckless driving in Virginia.
Any time you exceed the speed limit by 20 miles per hour or drive faster than 80 miles per hour, you can be charged with reckless driving by speed.
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth (i) at a speed of twenty miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit or (ii) in excess of eighty miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit.
Reckless driving, generally
Another common form of reckless driving is used when the police officer thinks you are driving in a reckless manner. It’s a catch-all reckless driving statute. Even if you don’t drive in a way that specifically violates one of the other reckless driving statutes, you can still be charged with reckless driving.
Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving.
If you lose control of your vehicle or are unable to stop properly, you could be charged with this type of reckless driving.
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a vehicle which is not under proper control or which has inadequate or improperly adjusted brakes on any highway in the Commonwealth.
Passing without a view
Everyone knows that you shouldn’t try to pass another vehicle where you can’t see oncoming traffic. But did you know that it’s actually reckless driving in Virginia?
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who, while driving a vehicle, overtakes and passes another vehicle proceeding in the same direction, on or approaching the crest of a grade or on or approaching a curve in the highway, where the driver’s view along the highway is obstructed, except where the overtaking vehicle is being operated on a highway having two or more designated lanes of roadway for each direction of travel or on a designated one-way roadway or highway.
Obstructed view or control
It’s your responsibility as the driver to make sure you can see out the side windows and windshield. If your car is overloaded so that you can’t see or operate the vehicle properly, you have a problem.
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a vehicle when it is so loaded, or when there are in the front seat such number of persons, as to obstruct the view of the driver to the front or sides of the vehicle or to interfere with the driver’s control over the driving mechanism of the vehicle.
Passing two abreast
You can be charged with reckless driving in Virginia, if you pass on a road that is two lanes or less when there are two vehicles abreast in the road. For this statute, it’s not considered reckless if one of the vehicles is a bicycle or similar device.
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who passes or attempts to pass two other vehicles abreast, moving in the same direction, except on highways having separate roadways of three or more lanes for each direction of travel, or on designated one-way streets or highways. This section shall not apply, however, to a motor vehicle passing two other vehicles when one or both of such other vehicles is a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, or moped; nor shall this section apply to a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, or moped passing two other vehicles.
Driving two abreast
A single lane is meant for only one vehicle. You can be charged with reckless driving if you drive two vehicles across the same lane of traffic. This statute includes motorcycles.
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives any motor vehicle, including any motorcycle, so as to be abreast of another vehicle in a lane designed for one vehicle, or drives any motor vehicle, including any motorcycle, so as to travel abreast of any other vehicle traveling in a lane designed for one vehicle. However, this section shall not apply to any validly authorized parade, motorcade, or motorcycle escort, nor shall it apply to a motor vehicle traveling in the same lane of traffic as a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, or moped.
Passing at railroad crossing or highway intersection
It’s reckless driving to pass another vehicle at a railroad crossing or highway intersection. Of course, it’s ok to do so when there are multiple lanes for travel in a single direction.
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who overtakes or passes any other vehicle proceeding in the same direction at any railroad grade crossing or at any intersection of highways unless such vehicles are being operated on a highway having two or more designated lanes of roadway for each direction of travel or unless such intersection is designated and marked as a passing zone or on a designated one-way street or highway, or while pedestrians are passing or about to pass in front of either of such vehicles, unless permitted so to do by a traffic light or law-enforcement officer.
Passing a stopped school bus
Not all reckless driving statutes make much sense. It’s a traffic infraction to pass a stopped school bus. But it’s also a form of reckless driving.
A person is guilty of reckless driving who fails to stop, when approaching from any direction, any school bus which is stopped on any highway, private road or school driveway for the purpose of taking on or discharging children, the elderly, or mentally or physically handicapped persons, and to remain stopped until all the persons are clear of the highway, private road or school driveway and the bus is put in motion. The driver of a vehicle, however, need not stop when approaching a school bus if the school bus is stopped on the other roadway of a divided highway, on an access road, or on a driveway when the other roadway, access road, or driveway is separated from the roadway on which he is driving by a physical barrier or an unpaved area. The driver of a vehicle also need not stop when approaching a school bus which is loading or discharging passengers from or onto property immediately adjacent to a school if the driver is directed by a law-enforcement officer or other duly authorized uniformed school crossing guard to pass the school bus. This section shall apply to school buses which are equipped with warning devices prescribed in § 46.2-1090 and are painted yellow with the words “School Bus” in black letters at least eight inches high on the front and rear thereof. Only school buses which are painted yellow and equipped with the required lettering and warning devices shall be identified as school buses.
The testimony of the school bus driver, the supervisor of school buses or a law-enforcement officer that the vehicle was yellow, conspicuously marked as a school bus, and equipped with warning devices as prescribed in § 46.2-1090 is prima facie evidence that the vehicle is a school bus.
You always have to be sure to signal properly. Failure to signal correctly can get you charged with reckless driving.
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who fails to give adequate and timely signals of intention to turn, partly turn, slow down, or stop, as required by Article 6 (§ 46.2-848 et seq.) of this chapter.
Driving too fast
The posted speed limit is the maximum speed you can legally drive under optimal road conditions. If conditions are poor due to the weather, traffic, or other factors, you should reduce your speed. Failure to do so is reckless driving.
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who exceeds a reasonable speed under the circumstances and traffic conditions existing at the time, regardless of any posted speed limit.
You are required to stop when entering a highway and traffic is approaching, unless a yield sign is posted. If you fail to stop or properly yield the right of way, you can be charged with reckless driving.
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who fails to bring his vehicle to a stop immediately before entering a highway from a side road when there is traffic approaching on such highway within 500 feet of such point of entrance, unless (i) a “Yield Right-of-Way” sign is posted or (ii) where such sign is posted, fails, upon entering such highway, to yield the right-of-way to the driver of a vehicle approaching on such highway from either direction.
Reckless driving on private property
Some people think that driving laws only apply on public road ways. However, you can be charged with reckless driving even on parking lots and driveways that are open to the public.
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who operates any motor vehicle at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person:
1. On any driveway or premises of a church, school, recreational facility, or business property open to the public; or
2. On the premises of any industrial establishment providing parking space for customers, patrons, or employees; or
3. On any highway under construction or not yet open to the public.
Racing is a serious offense in Virginia. It’s a form of reckless driving. It also carries a mandatory license suspension of six months to two years.
Any person who engages in a race between two or more motor vehicles on the highways in the Commonwealth or on any driveway or premises of a church, school, recreational facility, or business property open to the public in the Commonwealth shall be guilty of reckless driving, unless authorized by the owner of the property or his agent. When any person is convicted of reckless driving under this section, in addition to any other penalties provided by law the driver’s license of such person shall be suspended by the court for a period of not less than six months nor more than two years. In case of conviction the court shall order the surrender of the license to the court where it shall be disposed of in accordance with the provisions of § 46.2-398.